Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT
Tabled paper 934
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
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75 The other issue of significant concern, and a factor that made the situation considerably worse, was the lack of effective aftercare provided by police to members of the crowd. Pepper spray can create substantial pain and discomfort that can persist for an extended period. For example, one of the complainants stated that she was in pain and disoriented because the spray got in her eyes. At one stage she fell over as a result. While there were some individual and ad hoc efforts by police to assist members of the crowd who were suffering, there was little in the way of a proactive or co-ordinated approach, with a number of police simply moving away. This was not in line with police procedures and training. The investigating officer found the complaints in this respect sustained, with two officers subject to disciplinary action and a further three subject to remedial advice in relation to their obligations with respect to aftercare and decontamination. In any situation where multiple individuals are impacted by OC Spray, it is vital for NT Police to rapidly develop a co-ordinated approach to provision of timely and effective aftercare. NT Police apologised to each complainant in relation to the use of the spray and the failings in provision of aftercare. The finalisation of these complaints took a considerable length of time. I have discussed the number of conduct complaints facing police elsewhere in this report. This has obviously impacted on the time within which police have been able to progress individual matters. I have also noted that police are aware of the issue and have allocated additional resources to address it. There were a number of officers in the vicinity of the incident who needed to be interviewed as part of the investigation and officer absences on approved leave contributed to the time taken. Disciplinary proceedings against police can also take time in order to ensure that proper processes are followed and officers are afforded an appropriate opportunity to respond. Even so, the time taken to finalise these matters was disappointing. NT Police apologised to each of the complainants regarding the delay.